Men’s soccer returns to the pitch for the 2021 season


Albert Tamura

Northeastern men’s soccer will kick off their season Feb. 20 after three cancelled games.

Dov Kaufman, news correspondent

With the postponement of the Northeastern men’s soccer team’s first three matches against the University of Rhode Island, the University of Connecticut and UMass Amherst, the season is set to officially kick off with a home game against UMass Lowell Saturday Feb. 20.

The team is coming off an underwhelming 6-9-3 season that saw them win only one of their final 10 games. The 2021 roster, however, garnered an impressive 3-1 display in their home scrimmage against Rhode Island and a 4-1 victory against Boston College.

Huskies talismanic striker, redshirt sophomore Timothy Ennin, notched a particularly impressive start to the campaign. In the previous season, Ennin led the team with seven goals and three assists. His 10-goal contribution led the team by a longshot, with the second closest player, sophomore forward Benjamin Klingen, at only six. With Ennin playing a part in an astounding 42% of the Huskies’ goals last year, the squad is in dire need of more attacking options.

Against Rhode Island, Ennin’s creativity on the ball and goal scoring prowess were on full display. In the first half, Ennin made an excellent hold-up play with his ability to play with his back to the goal. The sophomore also stood out as a passer, with multiple sweeping crossfield balls opening up space for his teammates. In the second half, Ennin won and converted his penalty, demonstrating his ability to take advantage of defenders in the box. 

“Tim is a handful. He works hard defensively. He’s so tough to deal with because he’s so strong, low center of gravity,” said head coach Chris Gbandi.

His outrageous bicycle attempt in the second half epitomized his confidence and class on the pitch

Another man bursting onto the Husky soccer scene this season is freshman winger and forward Federico Tellez. The young Miami native should be a prime candidate to lift some of the goalscoring pressure off Ennin. Tellez looked electric with the ball at his feet against Rhode Island. Like Ennin, Tellez knows how to use his body to bully defenders. On multiple occasions, Tellez won the ball back for his side with anticipation and launched the counter. Additionally, Tellez showed a willingness to make runs that many of his teammates lacked.

“He gives us a different look. He works hard, pretty crafty, good on 1-v-1. Anytime you can have more than one goalscorer it helps you win games,” Gbandi said.

Tellez’s hard work was finally rewarded in the second half, as fellow freshmen defender Zach Sauer fed him through for the third and final goal.

With back to back strong offensive preseason showings, the Huskies are relieved to see goals flying in from all over the pitch.

“We have so many guys that can score goals for us,” Gbandi said. “Overall, we need to do a strong job defensively. Once we’re strong defensively, it gives us the opportunity to win games.

The Husky defense had a particularly strong offensive output against Rhode Island, with a goal from junior center back Jack Monte and an assist from freshman midfielder Zach Sauer. 

In a season plagued by uncertainty, versatility may prove to be the Huskies greatest weapon. Gbandi has a constant system in place that requires players to step up to positions they otherwise might be uncomfortable playing.

“We are playing a 4-3-3, but it’s more fluid with guys being able to step into the midfield [or] step into the defense,” Gbandi said. 

When Northeastern walks onto the field Feb. 20 to play UMass Lowell, it will mark three weeks since the 2021 season was originally meant to kick off. However, there is a possibility that this game will turn into a scrimmage instead, considering the prior scheduled games.

The original 2021 schedule suggests a shorter season was planned. Now with three games postponed, a lot is up in the air for the team. When the season does officially kick off, the Huskies will desperately search for their first winning season since 2012.